Signing for the university and the sealing of documents

Part C of Statute XVI contains the basic rules about who may commit the University in contract. No authority to commit the University extends to any contract that is illegal or which does not comply with obligations laid down by Office for Students, HM Revenue & Customs, or other government authorities.

Under Statute XVI the Vice-Chancellor and the Registrar each have authority in relation to any and every form of contract.

The following officers also have authority in relation to specific types of contract:

  • Director of Finance: contracts dealing with sales, purchases, investments, borrowings, commercial activities, research contracts, and the formation and operation of subsidiary, associated, and spin out companies
  • Director of Research Services: Research and research-related contracts
  • Director of Estates: Contracts for the design, demolition, construction, alteration, repair, and maintenance of buildings and for the sale, purchase, leasing, licensing and charging of real property
  • Director of Legal Services jointly with the relevant head of unit: Instruction of external lawyers

The officers listed above may each delegate their authority to enter the specified contracts on behalf of the University, subject to compliance with section 12 of Statute XVI and, in the case of delegation within the University, to compliance with Financial Regulations 1.5(2) and 3.2.

The Vice-Chancellor and the Registrar may also delegate authority to enter contracts to the boards of subsidiary companies, to officers of such companies, and to custodians appointed by such companies.

Heads of units have authority to sign contracts that are in the course of the ordinary business of their unit and which involve only the funds over which they have delegated control, subject to compliance with Financial Regulations 1.5(2) and 3.2. They do not have any authority to enter into any contracts which falls within the remits of the officers listed above (apart from sales and purchases in the course of the unit's ordinary business). What is ordinary business will vary, but for academic units can be taken to mean teaching and research and their support.

For contracts in the course of ordinary business as defined above, save in relation to contracts of employment (see Financial Regulation 3.2), heads of unit may delegate their authority to sign contracts to their staff. Where such delegation of authority is made, the limits and the officer's acceptance must be recorded in written form. A form is available below, although other records that summarise departmental delegations adequately (and which are accepted by delegates) are also acceptable. No such delegation shall be operative until a copy of the instrument recording the delegation has been delivered to the delegate and their acceptance received. The person making the delegation must retain these instruments and each unit must maintain a register of all delegations made by staff in that unit.

Authority to Bind the University forms:

Documents which require sealing should be sent to the Legal Services Office, with the appropriate sealing request form (available below). All documents to be sealed (whether or not they are concerned with real property) must carry the following sealing wording and no other:


          EXECUTED AS A DEED by affixing                      
          the COMMON SEAL of the                                    
           CHANCELLOR MASTERS AND                            
          SCHOLARS OF THE UNIVERSITY                        
          OF OXFORD
in the presence of: 



          Vice-Chancellor/Registrar/Director of Finance/

          Academic Registrar/Director of Planning and Council Secretariat 


We will cross out the titles of whoever does not sign. 


Sealing Request forms:

Contact Us

Legal Services Office

University Offices

Wellington Square